This buttermilk brined turkey recipe is thee easiest way to brine a turkey! Not only will it save you time and effort but the turkey will be moist, flavorful and beautiful! All you need is a fresh turkey, buttermilk, hot sauce, butter and your favorite seasoning blend! Best of all, there’s no boiling or waiting for the brine to cool!
This year I got asked to be one of the chefs that answer the Jennie-O Turkey Hotline!
It was such a fun and insightful experience. Not only did Jennie-O give us the ultimate turkey guide but they also connected us with a ton of other awesome chefs and bloggers.
While I was answering calls for the hotline, I was getting a ton of questions about brining the turkey so I figured I should share a recipe!
Unlike traditional brines, I wanted to share my southern brine that is super similar to a fried chicken brine.
All you need is buttermilk, hot sauce, salted butter, the thawed turkey and whatever seasoning blends you’d like to use for the skin and the cavity!
So let’s get to it!
(scroll down to the bottom for the full recipe!)
- defrosted fresh turkey (I prefer Jennie-O!)
- hot sauce (such as frank’s)
- salted butter, room temp
- all purpose seasoning (I used a Creole blend)
Optional ingredients to stuff the cavity
How to make a buttermilk brined turkey
What I like most about this buttermilk brine is how easy it is! You don’t even have to boil the brine.
Basically you just add buttermilk and hot sauce to your brining bag of bucket and stir it up.
Add the turkey breast side down and let it brine for 12-24 hours.
When you’re ready to cook the turkey, take it out of the fridge and gently wipe most of the the buttermilk brine off. You want some to remain on the skin so do not rinse.
Set the turkey on a roasting rack and let it get room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour.
Meanwhile, rub the bird with room temperature butter and sprinkle with seasoning.
Stuff the cavity with whatever citrus, herbs, onions, and garlic you’d like. I recommend a lemon, an orange, rosemary, sage, thyme and a half bulb of garlic.
Fill the bottom with some sort of broth, water or wine to catch the drippings.
Preheat the oven to 325 and cover the bird with tinfoil.
Bake for 1 hour then remove tinfoil and bake for 2-3 more hours (3-4 hours total).
When the internal temperature of the breast reaches 165F degrees or when the inner thigh reaches 180F degrees, then your turkey is done.
Remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest for 20 minutes before slicing.
How big of a turkey should I buy?
Buying a turkey is always stressful… especially if you’ve never done it before!
On one hand you don’t want to get too small of a bird but you also don’t want to get too big of a bird.
Personally, I love sending people home with leftovers so I recommend getting a turkey that allows each person to be allotted 1.5 lbs.
If you don’t care about leftovers, 3/4 of a pound is a good indicator of how big a turkey you’ll need.
How long does it take to defrost a turkey
If you’re defrosting the turkey in the fridge, it typically takes about 3-4 days.
The safest way is definitely letting the turkey defrost in the fridge.
But if you’re short on time, you can place the turkey (in the original packaging) in cold water — changing and discarding the water every 30 minutes so the surface of the turkeys skin stays cold.
Repeat this process until the turkey is thawed then open turkey, rinse, and prep for cooking.
What seasoning blend should I use?
If you’re using a seasoning blend to spice the outside of your turkey, I recommend using something that’s full of flavor.
I personally love using a Creole Seasoning Blend for some spice.
If you’re looking for a classic French flavor, try herbs de provence which is full of dried thyme, basil, rosemary, tarragon, savory, marjoram, oregano, and bay leaf.
You could also use a southern barbecue blend, a Greek seasoning blend, or even a Jamaican Jerk blend.
How long should I roast the turkey
If you’re wondering how long you need to roast the turkey, you should first see how much it weighs.
|Approximate Oven Roasting Times:
8-12 lbs: 3-1/2 to 4 hours
12-18 lbs: 4-1/4 to 4-3/4 hours
18-22 lbs: 4-1/2 to 5 hours
22-24 lbs: 4-3/4 to 5-1/4 hours
And although this is just an estimated time, you should definitely check the internal temperature of the turkey before removing from the oven.
What temperature should the turkey be when it’s done?
The best way to tell if your turkey is cooked thoroughly is by inserting a thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh.
When completely cooked through, the thigh temperature should read 180F degrees.
If you’re inserting the thermometer into the breast, it should read 165F degrees.
At this point, the juices should run clear and the skin of the turkey will be golden brown and crispy!
What to pair it with
If you’re making this for Thanksgiving, I recommend pairing it with the classics like my MIL’s cheesy green bean casserole, some old fashioned candied sweet potatoes, jiffy cornbread dressing, and some white cheddar mashed potatoes.
Or check out 20 of my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes for more tasty inspiration!
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Buttermilk Brined Turkey
- 1 15-20 lbs fresh defrosted turkey such as Jennie-O
- 1 gallon buttermilk
- 1/2 cup hot sauce such as frank’s
- 1 stick salted butter room temperature
- 2 tbsp your favorite all purpose seasoning such as aCreole blend
- 1 onion
- 1 lemon
- 1 orange
- 1 bulb garlic
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 sprigs fresh sage
- Remove gizzards and turkey neck from cavity and set aside.
- Combine buttermilk and hot sauce in a large brining bag or stockpot and then add turkey, breast side down and cover. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
- After 24 hours, remove turkey from brine and wipe most of the brine off - leaving a thin coat. Place turkey on a roasting pan and let it loose its chill.
- Preheat your oven to 325.
- Meanwhile, smear the butter all over your turkey and sprinkle with your favorite seasoning blend.
- If you’d like stuff the turkey’s cavity with onion, lemon, orange, garlic, thyme, rosemary and sage.
- Fill the bottom of your roasting pan with either water, broth or wine to catch drippings.
- Cover the turkey loosely with tinfoil and bake for 1 hour.
- Remove the tinfoil and continue cooking for 2-3 more hours until the internal temperature reaches 180F degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh.
- Remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest for 20 minutes before cutting.